AHF Blasts Gilead for Squeezing Every Last Cent Out of Truvada

In News by AHF

AHF advocacy campaign, which targets San Francisco and San Mateo County neighborhoods of Gilead’s Foster City headquarters, seeks to educate company employees and general public about Gilead’s seeming rush for FDA-approval of its blockbuster AIDS treatment Truvada for use as an HIV prevention pill in uninfected individuals —despite serious concerns about drug’s safety and efficacy.

Campaign includes the advocacy post card sent to 48,000 homes in 15 zip codes in the Bay Area as well as a similar newspaper “sticky note” ad affixed to editions of the San Jose Mercury News from Jan 24-29

LOS ANGELES (January 27, 2012)⎯Earlier this week, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) launched an awareness campaign to educate employees and neighbors of Gilead Sciences, Inc. about Gilead’s seeming rush to seek FDA-approval of its blockbuster AIDS treatment Truvada as a form a ‘pre-exposure prophylaxis’ (PrEP) to prevent HIV transmission in uninfected individuals. The campaign, called, ‘Gilead: Squeezing Every Last Cent out of Truvada!’ includes advocacy post cards printed with that message and sent to 48,000 homes in the Bay area as well as appearing as newspaper sticky note ads attached to the San Jose Mercury News and which are being distributed on editions of the paper from January 24th through January 29th.

On December 15, 2011, Gilead issued a press release stating it had formally filed an application with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for such expanded use of the Truvada. The application was based in part on clinical trials that were widely reported last summer and which showed—at best—marginal efficacy for the drug when used as a prevention pill—one study of gay men showed a very modest 44% rate of success in preventing transmission of the virus.

Truvada, a drug compound that consists of Gilead’s drugs Viread (tenofovir DF) and Emtriva (emtricitabine), is currently FDA-approved for use as part of antiretroviral therapy combinations for individuals already living with HIV or AIDS. FDA-approval for pre-exposure use as a form of HIV prevention for those NOT infected with the virus would be a first for the FDA, and a move that AHF and other AIDS advocates believe would set a dangerous precedent.

“It appears that Gilead is trying to ram expanded use of Truvada as an HIV prevention pill through the FDA approval process—despite serious concerns about the drug’s safety and effectiveness,” said Michael Weinstein, AHF President. “Employees and the public should know that the multi-billion dollar profit Gilead is currently making on Truvada as an HIV treatment medication is not enough for them—Gilead now has its eyes on the billions of dollars that can be made by selling HIV drugs to people who don’t even have the disease. We see this is an act of desperation to protect Gilead’s unsustainably high profits from Truvada, which will go off patent in the next few years. Gilead knows it doesn’t have the pipeline to replace this blockbuster AIDS treatment, so it’s doing everything it can to squeeze out more profit—even if that means putting healthy people at risk.”

The ‘Gilead: Squeezing Every Last Cent out of Truvada!’ campaign includes 48,000 postcards sent to residents of neighborhoods surrounding the company’s headquarters in Foster City, California—including Foster City, Burlingame, Millbrae, and Redwood City in San Mateo County, as well as to residents in eight zip codes in the city of San Francisco. The postcards feature the image of a hand squeezing a lemon, along with the message: “Gilead, Squeezing Every Last Cent Out of Truvada!” and refers the public to www.nomagicpills.org for more information and to send an e-letter expressing concern to Gilead CEO John C. Martin.

In addition, AHF has employed an innovative use of newspaper front-page “sticky notes.” Most often utilized as somewhat intrusive sales and marketing tactic to sell products who face stiff competition such as insurance, auto sales and lap-band surgery. AHF’s “sticky notes” feature the same image as the postcards, the message “Gilead, Squeezing Every Last Cent Out of Truvada!” and the website: www.nomagicpills.org. These ads will target similar neighborhoods to the postcards and are scheduled to appear on the front pages of the San Mateo County Times and the San Jose Mercury News from January 24th through January 29th.

“It’s high time for Gilead to stop the greed and withdraw its FDA application for Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—or HIV prevention pill—now,” added AHF’s Weinstein.

Media Contact: Lori Yeghiayan
Telephone: (323) 308-1834
Mobile: (323) 377-4312
E-Mail: [email protected]

Media Contact: Ged Kenslea
Telephone: (323) 308-1833
Mobile: (323) 791-5526
E-Mail: [email protected]

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